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Jazmine Sullivan's UK Comeback: Her Best Bangers & Ballads

Jazmine Sullivan, a powerhouse in contemporary R&B, has been captivating audiences with her soulful voice and poignant storytelling since her debut. Her music, often characterised by its raw emotion and relatable narratives, transcends the typical boundaries of the genre. With a career spanning over a decade, the Philly native has delivered numerous hits that not only showcase her vocal prowess but also her ability to connect deeply with listeners. From unforgettable bangers to anthems known word for word, the pedestal she is placed on is testament to her unique artistry. In light of her return to the UK after 9 years, it’s only right that we pick apart her discography and highlight her best, and our favourite songs (in no particular order).

Pick Up Your Feelings

You can't speak about riffs and runs in recent times without mentioning Pick Up Your Feelings, that run in particular - you know which one I’m talking about. Jazmine possesses a pen like no other that allows her to transform the drama of everyday life into a sonic masterpiece. Where many artists match the high points to uptempo production and low ones to slower, ballad-like melodies, our resident R&B princess can flip the script and this standout single from Heaux Tales is the perfect example. She has depicted breakups and heartbreak on many an occasion but to do so in an affirming and empowering way as telling them to “pick up your feelings” along with the rest of their belongings? It had to make the list.

Let It Burn

Let It Burn puts Jazmine’s versatility on full display. With clear inspiration from the sample track Ready or Not by After 7 (the group that gave us the Godly gift of Babyface), the 80’s influences shine through with heavy synth work and simple 808 drum patterns from decorated producer, Key Wane. When layered with a powerhouse of a voice that is reminiscent of singers back in the day, what can you really expect other than a dreamy 3 minutes and 48 seconds. Jazmine gives an ode to the past whilst putting a modern twist on a classic formula. Fun fact: the vocals for the song were recorded in one take.


When words are sung with enough tenderness and care over the strumming of an acoustic guitar, even the most colourful sentences can sound like a love song. Enter Roster: a deluxe track from Jazmine’s latest album that lets us all know that no matter how much love she is giving, she always has “one more spot” for the right person. When it comes to sex, love and heartbreak, the honesty she emits through her music will always be a selling point for her countless fans, and this number is no different. Jazmine has never shied away from writing about her toxic tendencies and giving listeners a glimpse into the private life of a very public person just to find out she’s doing her dirt like the rest of us, is exactly why this song will go down in hoeing history. 

Bust Your Windows

There are no notes for a classic of this calibre. Having a song like Bust Your Windows under your belt on a debut album is nothing to turn your nose up at. Although the production and composition seem simple on the first listen, there are blankets of complexity on show. The Tango-style woodwind and string ensemble create a soft and sensual sound, contrasting the strength and raw emotions of pain and rage emanating from Jazmine’s vocals. This song is the epitome of when sexy meets vengeance, and the world responded to her melodic crimes of passion with adoration. The song peaked at number 4 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart and was nominated for Best R&B Song at the 2009 Grammys.

Shoutout to Amber Riley for doing the song justice on Glee, I hope you’ve eaten well today.

Need U Bad

Need U Bad is the song you play outside your ex’s house at 3 in the morning through a boombox when you did them wrong. Arguably one of the greatest ‘baby come back’ songs of a generation, the lyrics explore Jazmine yearning for another chance at a relationship she didn’t get right the first time, over a reggae-infused instrumental. It isn’t common to hear women admitting to romantic ‘transgressions’ through an R&B song, let alone begging for her man back - this act was usually left to male artists (back when begging was cool) where acting up or stepping out was almost expected. The transparency in her music highlights, yet again, how much of her authentic self she gives to her fans right from the start of her career. 

Lions, Tigers & Bear

Nothing sums up the dramatics surrounding love like some good ol’ hyperbole. Lions, tigers and bears are all, in fact, amongst the most dangerous predators on earth but when compared to love, how scary are they really? Lions, Tigers & Bears can still be deemed a love song but from the pessimistic view of someone who has experienced the realities of love and, more importantly, devastating heartbreak. It’s as if the song is a drawn out thought process, or an internal struggle. Jazmine wants to believe in the niceties of affection and what she is being told but lets the fear of failure create a mountain out of a molehill - making love the most “impossible task”. All's well that ends well, with the famous words of “it’s better to have loved than not to love at all”, either ending a cycle or starting the process all over again…

Forever Don’t Last

There is a certain maturity, both vocally and lyrically, across the album Reality Show that seems to be encapsulated in Forever Don’t Last. The rasp and croak to her performance conveys such a heart-wrenching tone over blues-esque backing vocals and a country guitar instrumental, not to mention the sheer weight and potency behind her voice. All components come together with her words acting as the icing on the cake, explaining how high hopes weren’t enough to prevent eternity coming to an end for Jazmine and her partner. Her ability to wholly unravel emotions and piece them back together within a short but impactful amount of time remains a mystery, evoking a wave of emptiness, sorrow, mourning and exhaustion to name a few.


The soundtrack for the hit show, Insecure on HBO, will always trigger memorable moments: from ‘Broken Pussy’, that Coachella episode, Issa crashing her car because she received ‘Attachment: 1 Image’ and last but definitely not least - the soundtrack and music supervision. In particular, Jazmine and Bryson Tiller coming together to create an original song that embodies the spirit of the main character, the title of the show and everything in between. The soulful collaboration doubles as a harmonic confessional where each singer spills their inhibited thoughts that appear relatable to any young person traversing the ups and downs of life. It is the song on the list that is loved profusely, that no one knew they needed. What a perfect combination.

Lost One

Lost One can’t possibly be discussed without giving a nod to the previous skit, Rashida’s Tale, as the stories and tracks merge into one another to form the Heaux Tales experience. The skit is nothing short of being frank, direct and outright forthcoming on cheating, where she describes her partner leaving her as a “mourning a death”. It’s as if Jazmine writes from her own perspective and chequered past, whilst simultaneously taking on the persona of Rashida in a blended outpour of regret and agonising understanding. Despite coming from the stance of the aggressor in the situation, there is a selfishness about the track - with the chorus pleading with the person she’s hurt not to fall in love with anyone else. In other words, if I can’t have you, no one can but when it’s belted with sincerity, it comes across heartfelt in a way where listeners almost feel sorry for her. 

In Love With Another Man

What can only be chronicled as a stripped back performance, Jazmine takes centre stage in Love With Another Man, accompanied by light and sultry backing vocals and a piano - allowing us to focus on the story that unfolds. The real beauty of the song is that her voice grows in vigour as time progresses, along with the volume behind the production, as she herself becomes more comfortable with sharing the taboo of being in love with someone that isn’t hers. The shame dissipates as Jazmine shakes off the moral obligation of wanting what she shouldn’t have and justifies that she deserves this new man just as much her current boo needs someone who will love them in a way that she can’t provide. A classic example of the truth hurts, and in some instances, can kill.

10 Seconds

Before we had Beyonce’s Countdown, there was Jazmine Sullivan’s 10 Seconds. The second single from her second album Love Me Back sees the singer give a stern warning to a lover, essentially giving them 10 seconds to disappear, counting rhythmically from one - because who knows what will happen if she reaches the fateful last number. Co-written and produced by long term collaborator Salaam Remi, the accompaniment of saxophones, flutes, guitar, strings and crashing drums matches the grandiose and theatrics of the situation at hand. Urgency is the overlying theme, with a big emboldened exclamation mark at the end of the word.

Masterpiece (Mona Lisa)

The ultimate self-love anthem: Jazmine addresses her insecurities and issues around her own appearance and how far she has come in her journey by likening herself to Mona Lisa, a painting that has drummed up innumerable debates and conversations surrounding her looks. In an interview with MusicXclusivesTV, she said: “I think I’ve always dealt with self-image issues, as well as a lot of people– especially women and young girls, and especially young Black girls. It’s me finally being able to accept and even love all the things about me and finding them beautiful.” The sharp transition from the rock-tinged melodies throughout to the acapella finish drives home just how special Masterpiece is.

Listen to our Jazmine Sullivan playlist here.


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